I’ve previously extolled the virtues of many the British drama (among them Bleak House and Martin Chuzzlewit, and also The Way We Live Now, Vanity Fair (1998) and Little Dorrit). And now, another but distinct pleasure, Downton Abbey.
While all the preceding are adaptations, Downton Abbey is an original script, and upstairs/downstairs film that not only has a hell of a script, a great cast (Maggie Smith is quite chicken perfect in this) and possibly the most beautifully shot of the dramas. The trailor below gives little sense of the aesthetic pleasure of this production (you don’t need hi def but it would not hurt) but some sense of the tone. (Apparently this is the most expensive British tv drama ever filmed).
Now as I was searching for a representative clip to show I discovered a number of Downton compilations and apart from the one above, they were disturbing in what they indicated about, at the very least, the people that created them. These wonderful shots of pre 1914 Britain were paired with in one case The Police’s I’ll Be Watching You (which has no relation to the content) sung in a choral type version that is someone’s impoverished idea of what a period piece might be. (And absurdly this might have been put together by the same group that made the film; the film itself has a quite appropriate score).
And then there is this one with a David Gray song coming in and out of the scenes. The deluded soul who put this together as a calling card pointing to their “original video work” shows little but an absolute disregard for context. A specialized kind of deafness I suppose. But we do see this in the movies all the time. Usually there is more of an attempt to match the lyrics to the images but typically all that is conveyed to any intelligent viewer is that the editor/director feels incapable of conveying the information with the images and prefers to hit you over the head with some excruciating and mismatched piece of music.